By Mac Engel

CAPRI, Italy I'm not rich, certainly not famous, but I can pretend.
I have browsed on Fifth Avenue, blown $1.50 on a can of Coke in La Jolla and eyed $300 jeans on Michigan Avenue, but I hadn't experienced how the filthy rich relax. What does it feel like to sip Dom Perignon while saying no to seconds of caviar?
What better time to live out an envydriven fantasy than on a honeymoon with my new wife, Jennifer? So throwing caution, and a few extra bucks, to the wind, I planned a portion of our honeymoon to be spent sunbathing, eating and drinking on the isle of Capri.
Sitting in the Mediterranean in the Gulf of Naples, Capri is a destination worthy of Robin Leach hyperbole.
Once a home for goat farmers and exiles, Capri is now a second home for Hollywood's stars and Europe's finest authors, as well as a seductive vacation spot for the world's millionaires ... and me, and you.
Be not afraid; even though Capri caters to those who don't sweat the bottom line, it's affordable for those of us who do, if we're going to be traveling in Italy anyway. And even if it costs a little more than a Padre Island vacation, it's a onceinalifetime opportunity that begs when in Rome, hit Capri.
Is that Sting? ... OK, so it's just a photograph of Sting. But over there, that has to be somebody. A nobody doesn't wear a Gucci Tshirt and look that welltanned.
Standing outside of a window staring at photos of famous people and $15 desserts, it hit me just where I was. This may be Europe, but it's a Europe where backpackers are distinctly unwelcome. No hostels, and leave your student discounts in the trash. It seems that every famous person from the Pope to Salman Rushdie, from Jeanne Tripplehorn to Bono has hit Capri at one time or another, drawn by the natural beauty of this mountain island with its gorgeous grottos and lush gardens, as well by the beautiful people who stroll its streets.
Unlike visitors to nearby Pompeii, where tourists in dusty shorts and damp Tshirts wipe sweat from their brows, the elegant vacationers in the cafes and stores of Capri looked as if they'd just been picked up from Rodeo Drive and plopped here off the coast of Italy. Specifically in the island's principal town, Capri Town, or, as I prefer to call it, "Cashtown."
Cashtown sits high above the shore of Capri. With its mountain faces and steep roads, Capri's geography has three levels: sea level, with its ports and some hotels; the town of Anacapri, high up on the western portion of the island; and Capri Town, on the eastern side, where the real money comes to play.
We arrived at Capri's Marina Grande by hydrofoil, 50 minutes after departing from the port at noisy and congested Naples. Our budget dictated that we stay there rather than finding a room at a higher elevation.
From sea level, trying to reach Cashtown appeared a daunting task We could walk, take the funicular or take a taxi or bus up the steep, extremely narrow roads. We chose the 15minute walk, which provides a splendid view and an appreciation of the neighborhoods and residences of the island, not to mention a decent workout. Coincidentally, it's also free.
And after we reached thetop and caught our breath, Capri's celebration of excess hit us like a 24carat Louisville Slugger. Bulgari. Versace. Dolce e Gabbana. Pucci. $25 appetizers. One Christmas ornament for $50. To sit down and drink one glass of Coke at a chichi cafe: $8 (There are some things MasterCard won't buy).
At the same time something else hit me: sanity. Cashtown may be pricey, but if I was smart, my new bride and I could afford it. Easily.
We bought soft drinks inside a cafe for a more reasonable $3 and carried them outside to the main piazza, where we sat overlooking the slow hustle and bustle of Capri. There are few better places to write in a journal or read a good book than this peaceful, sunny spot cooled by the ocean breeze. The sun was warm, the view of the Mediterranean was spectacular, and the peoplewatching had a distinct soapopera quality. The runway fashions paraded on the covers of GQ or Vogue are displayed here in 3D.
Wanting to explore further this playground of the rich, we set off for a stroll among Capri's splendors.
One of the first things I noticed is that, unlike so many of Europe's tourist spots, there are no junk stands in Capri. No kiosks selling three Tshirts for $10. Nobody selling knockoff Louis Vuitton purses on a toweI. lf you're shopping in Capri, you're shopping for the real thing.
Because it looked like we'd have to take out a second mortgage on the house to buy something here, we decided to content ourselves with windowshopping. And unlike windowshopping in the United States, where .every store is either a Gap, Pottery Barn or Starbucks, there is no redundancy in Capri. Every store is unique. Every item different. Every item topdollar.
They still haven't figured out a way to charge for windowshopping. Wandering in and out of stores, we eventually discovered that there were some items within our budget. Jennifer could only dream about the jewelry and the designer shoes, but the handmade dishware and blown glass, as nice as they were, were within our budget.
Strolling farther down the streets, we stopped and glanced at the restaurant lunch menus. Americans may be crazy for costly coffee drinks, but even we'd put the brakes on for a $9 latte.
That didn't mean Jennifer and I starved. Like every other European city, Capri has its share of walkins, places where you can order a personal pizza, salad or sandwich and a drink for a moderate price. So what if you aren't sitting at the chic cafe next to the German executive who just fired his personal dogtrainer? Do that at dinner.
Of course, there's more to Capri than walking in the shadows of the wealthy.
This beautiful island has its share of ancient ruins, churches and other historic sites. Capri offers the Certosa di San Giacomo, a Carthusian monastery built in 1363. Andthe Villa Jovis. ruins were the home of Tiberius during his final days of ruling the Roman Empire.
But we didn't come to Capri for a lesson in Italian history. We came for the extravagance, for the water and the scenery. Capri's pebblecovered beaches aren't good for walks or stretching out on a beach towel, but jumping into the Mediterranean satisfied a beach craving. And Capri has yet to figure out a way to charge admission to its public beaches.
Wanting to explore the island further, we figured it was finally time to open our wallets. Taking the advice of some locals, we skipped a tour of the famous Blue Grotto; apparently its reputation as a tourist trap is deserved. We also declined to pay $20 per person for a boat tour of the island.
Instead, we rented our own motorboat at $60 for four hours. Grabbing a few towels from our hotel room, we packed a camera and stopped at a local market for drinks and snack food before we set off to end the afternoon. The motorboat didn't fulfill my fantasy of owning a multilevel yacht, but it turned out to be an excellent way to see Capri's stunning and undisturbed shoreline.
We motored past a handful of restaurants with their own docks and scooted past the line of boats waiting for their threeminute turn inside the Blue Grotto. Not much farther and we threw the anchor over to swim inside the Green Grotto.
Unlike its blue brother the Green Grotto was empty,iƬwe could swim peacefully.
Continuing farther, we took in the colorful homes and lavish architecture of the island. Residences situated at the top of the mountain appeared impossible to reach. That is, until a helicopter swooped overhead and landed near one of these homes you'd see in In Style.
A little farther around, and our boat crawled through the Faraglioni rocks just a few hundred yards from the coast. These three large rock formations are, perhaps, Capri's most celebrated geographic feature. Taking our time, we completed our tour of the island just a few seconds shy of the allotted four hours.
Sunkissed and fully relaxed, we noticed it was dinnertime. There were a handful of moderately priced and decent dining alternatives in the Marina Grande area. The restaurant we settled on was Savardina da Eduardo; it was less than $40 for two people, and the setting was perfect. The homemade ravioli was not of this Earth, and we lingered over our meal.
Later, as we wandered around Capri licking scoops of gelato and staring into store windows at $500 shoes, I noticed it was almost midnight and, amazingly, I wasn't broke.
Turns out, I still wasn't rich or famous either, but I'd done a good job of pretending that day.

IF YOU GO
Getting There: You can get to Capri by ferry or hydrofoil from Naples. Flights arrive daily at Naples, which also is easily reached by train. From the train station, take the No. 2 bus (very, very crowded) to the port. Or you can take a cab for around $25. Once at the port, hydrofoils are about $15 per person, leaving every hour. Ferries are cheaper, but they take about 70 minutes and leave only every three hours.
Hotels: Villa San Felice. Threestar rating. Rates around $140. Phone 39 081 8376122.
Hotel Belsito. Twostar rating. Rates around $85. Phone 39 081 8370969.
Bedandbreakfast option: Villa Eva. Rates in season are less than $100. Phone 39 081 8371549. ONLINE: www.caprionline.com